Fresh Hope – 31st March 2016

Hebrews 12 vs 1-3 says
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you would not grow weary and lose heart.”

4 things to help you from these verses today…

1. Surround yourself with great people, who are further down the road than you, who will encourage you and inspire you. Make an effort to be with these people. They may not just ‘fall into your lap’ – go after them.

2. Get rid of what is stopping you moving forward and get on with it. Run.

3. Keep looking to Jesus. Because He knew the outcome, He went through the hardship of dying. So don’t give up, He went through much more for me and you because He looked forward to the promise.

4. Don’t grow weary and lose heart. People opposed Jesus and then killed him. Don’t give up, God is for you.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 30th March 2016

Much-loved Pastor and leader, Tommy Barnett, arrived from the States to speak at our church just three weeks ago.

As he disembarked the plane at Birmingham airport, he went to collect his luggage and had a nasty fall, injuring his head, elbow and both knees.

At 78 years of age and now with blood streaming down his face, it looked certain that he was going to spend his first few hours at our local A and E department.

After meeting him at the hotel a little later, we decided that it would be far better and much quicker to pop and see one of the doctors that attends our church.

That afternoon, I drove him into Birmingham for an appointment with our friendly doctor.

After a thorough check-up, he was declared fit, and assured that although badly cut and bruised, no bones were broken.

As I walked back to the car with him, he asked me how much he owed us.

“Nothing at all”,  I said as we got into the car.

“I must pay you back, as this will have obviously cost you a lot to get me in privately to see such a doctor”, he replied.

I then explained that although we have very high fuel prices, unlike the USA, we do have the NHS to thank for his free medical treatment!

He could hardly believe that I was telling the truth and that all he had received had come completely free.

The greatest truth on earth this Easter time is that Jesus has paid for your sins to be forgiven, once and for all, and that the free gift of His love to you right now is all part of the deal.

You will never be able to pay for that yourself, and that’s exactly why Jesus went to the cross for you, knowing that the only way back to God was through His son, Jesus, giving His life for you.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it is true.

Jesus paid in full – so to you, it’s a free gift.
Romans 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 29th March 2016

One of my favourite things that I used to do as a young boy, was the ‘spot the difference’ quiz in my weekly comic –  in which two seemingly identical pictures, side by side, had subtle differences that you had to spot.

As we continue to journey through this Easter season, I want you to join me in one of the most powerful life-changing ‘spot the differences’ in the Bible.

One day, Jesus stood to read from the Book of Isaiah at the front of the Temple.

Now, we are reading this from Luke 4:18-21…

‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

…Jesus was actually reading it from the original text in Isaiah 61:1-2 ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,because the Lord has anointed meto proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God…’

Take a look at both readings again, and see if you can spot the difference.

Did you get it?

When Jesus read from Isaiah, He missed a bit out.

He omitted the last line …’the day of vengeance of our God’ and chose to end it with…’the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Did he make a mistake?

I don’t believe so, as He was announcing clearly that he was about to take God’s vengeance for us, and replace it with ‘the year of the Lord’s favour.’

We may ask when is that year? Has it gone? Is it to come? Have I missed it?

The answer is found in Jesus’ comment…’Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

The year of Favour is not a literal year, but is any day called TODAY.

Every day to those that walk with Jesus, can be called a day of Favour.

In fact, I declare this day, right now, a day of favour over your life.

Don’t keep walking around in fear of punishment from God because of the wrongs that you have done, instead, walk in the forgiveness that Jesus has bought for you, and enjoy the very favour of God.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 28th March 2016

Our youngest son Caleb passed his driving test a few days ago.

It was not his first test, suffice to say that we’ve been out driving a fair bit over the last few months.

As he drove to the test centre a few days ago, we chatted through the basics once more to ensure that he remembered everything that he’d been taught.

On his last test that he failed, he was taken one route that was very unfamiliar to him and he missed one of the important speed restriction signs that marked the way – he didn’t break the speed limit…he actually went too slow!

As I left him at the driving test centre this time round, the last thing we talked about was that it didn’t matter how unfamiliar the territory was to him, as long as he applied the same principles and rules along the way. It was also irrelevant as to where the route took him as long as he observed the warning signs.

Strangely enough, the instructor took him where he’d never been before, and he had no clue at all where he’d been when I asked him later – all he knew was that he’d passed.

There will be times for all of us when our lives take us down some very unfamiliar roads. We will have never experienced some of the twists and turns, and will have no clues as to what to expect.

The advice is just the same that I gave to Caleb: it doesn’t matter where you go just apply the same principles from God’s word and you’ll be fine.

Watch out for the warning signs, obey them and you can’t go wrong.

Sometimes we can see things clearly in the light of day but when we’re in a dark time, we start to panic and get afraid – just remember this…whatever you learn in the light practice in the dark.

A pilot is taught that when flying through the clouds and you have no visible bearings around you, just simply fly by your instruments. Trust them and you won’t go wrong.

God has placed in our hands a manual for living…it’s His word, the Bible.

If you believe it, obey it and live by it, it will be a constant guide, no matter where you find yourself.

Psalm 119:105-112 ‘Your word is a lamp for my feet,a light on my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, Lord, according to your word. Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. Your statutes are my heritage for ever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 26th March 2016

God’s plan for your life will take total trust.

A few days ago, we talked about Moses and the great plan that God had for his life.

Have you ever stopped to think about his mother? She didn’t realise at that moment, that he was destined to be one of the greatest leaders, yet, she was willing to give him up.
She had to let go of her child, put him in a basket and sent him down the river, not knowing that she would ever see him again.

God always has a plan! The princess found him, kept him and asked his own mother to help raise him.

God’s plans will always require total trust. Don’t doubt God. You probably can’t even begin to work out how it’s all going to come together – you don’t need to. You just have to trust.

Mary said ‘yes’ to God, when the angel visited her, even though it would have massive implications on her life.

Esther said ‘yes’ to God and agreed to visit the King, even though she may have lost her life in doing it.

Obedience will ALWAYS bring blessing.
Don’t try and work God’s plans out, you won’t.

Just trust in the One who has it already sorted.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 25th March 2016

A friend of mine was invited to be treated to an experience of a lifetime, along with his wife and three children.

A multi-millionaire that he knew, had decided to treat them all to a 3 day break on his luxury yacht…all expenses paid.

Following this, he then told them he had booked them into a top floor suite for a further three days at one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.

This was to be an extra special treat for my friend, as it was also his daughter’s birthday; all the food and drinks were included and an exclusive party room booked for the occasion.

As they disembarked the multi-million pound yacht, they were taken, as promised, to enjoy the final part of the trip at the hotel. However, due to business commitments, the wealthy host was unable to join them.

For three days, the family lived in the lap of luxury and really didn’t want to check out on the day of departure.

As the cases were taken to the lobby and the room keys returned to reception, a nasty shock was awaiting…the host had left without covering the cost.

The colour drained out of my friend’s face, as he told me that the three days had cost him a staggering £5000!

‘Not to worry’ he thought, as it was a simple mistake on the host’s part – who had obviously forgotten to leave his payment details; too embarrassed to mention the bill to the host, the subject of the money was never ever brought up, and the cost had to be met by my friend.

Thankfully, on this Good Friday, Jesus paid the bill and bore the cost in full – nothing to pay for you and I.

He never walked away from the cross, as He knew that we could have never settled the cost of our sins ourselves.

Jesus paid the price for your sins. You’ll never be good enough or live long enough to do that yourself.

Just accept freely his offer of life to you today.

Nothing owed.

Religion is spelt DO.

Christianity is spelt DONE.

Thank Him today.

Titus 3:3-6… But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour…

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 24th March 2016

As we approach this special season of Easter, we are drawn to remember that when God sent his son to die for our sins, He gave His best, and He gave His all.

Giving your all is a theme right throughout the Bible.

Now, it’s one thing for God to give me His all, but I’m not sure as to why I should give mine, after all, I should surely keep something back just for me…right?

I was 19 years of age and I felt an inner prompting from God to leave my chosen career behind and go to Bible college; I was scared, but I knew it was something that I must do.

After being rejected following my first interview, I accepted their advice to go back to work and then reapply in 12 months time.

My acceptance for the 2 year course, a year later, meant that I would need to find £3500, a pretty big sum now, and even more so in 1982.

It was a sum that I didn’t have, but I did have my life savings which amounted to £1500. They were everything I had and without even thinking, I drew every last penny out.

It was my best and my all, but it was more than paying my way to get to college, it was paving my way for my future.

Now all these years later, I can honestly say that I have no regrets in doing what I did and would do it again, in fact I have done it again, several times over.

I’ve done it with money, with cars, with possessions and most importantly, I do it daily with my life. I give my life daily over to God and ask Him to use me unreservedly. “Take my best and my all” is my prayer.

The amazing thing is this: when you give your best and your all on this earth, something takes place in Heaven that changes your life forever.

When you give all that you have unreservedly to God, instead of going without, you come into amazing and inexplicable blessing and favour.

People that hold back and refuse to give of themselves, never know of this blessing and only can look on at those that do and think, ‘how on earth did that happen for them?’

I encourage this Easter time, to give your life over to God without reservation. Give your best and give your all.

You’ll be totally blown away with what does happen in return for a person that is sold out to God.

“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
― C.T. Studd

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 23rd March 2016

I was watching a programme on TV recently featuring Prince Charles, and during the show he said something that caught my attention. He said, “You have to be a good listener before you can become a good communicator.”

At that moment, I realised what a profound statement it actually was. It hit me that I can spend so much of my life, as can we all, focusing on what we have to say, rather than on what other people have to say. The problem with that kind of living is that you don’t receive wisdom from around you, and so sooner rather than later, you yourself have nothing of great value to share…

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God gave us one mouth, but He gave us TWO ears…

I heard a quote once that said, ‘If you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.’ I don’t know about you, but I want to surround myself with people whose words will build me and shape me in a positive way. I don’t just want to mix in circles where I feel like I’m the only one who has anything to say, but rather I’m the one who has everything to learn.

One of the greatest transitions you can make in life is to go from being a know-it-all to a learn it all. I believe that God has given each of us a voice, but we must understand that in order to speak out, you first have to take in.

Can I encourage you today to make a choice to take up the position of ‘listener’, in order that you may become the most effective communicator that you were created to be?

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 22nd March 2016

We live in a rational world where our expectations are based on our position, abilities and standing in life.

Say, for example, that you’re 1 of 12 children. You would expect, growing, up to fight and jostle for position, against 11 siblings. Generally on average, you would expect to get 1/12th of your dad’s spare available time divided out amongst you all.

Unfortunately, many of us can feel like this with God.

There are 7 billion people on the planet! And I’m just one, and not the best one at that!

So I can expect 1/7 billionth of God’s attention? It could be worse and we settle for this based on feeling not worthy of anything more.

This couldn’t be further from the truth because of an amazing attribute of God called ‘infinity!’

There are hundreds of verses about God’s infinite qualities.

Isaiah 40:28 – “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom.”
Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”
Psalm 147:5 – “Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”
Do you know what infinite means? No beginning or end, no boundary or limit to its resource! Impossible to calculate!

Let’s do some maths.

What is half of 100? Answer is 50.
What is half of 10,000? Answer is 5,000.
What is half of infinity? Answer is infinity!
Hang on then! What’s infinity divided by 7 billion? Answer is still infinity!

That’s right, you don’t have 1/7billionth of God, you have all of Him all of the time! Right now and always he is watching you, thinking of you!

Psalms 139:1-4 ‘You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.’

You may feel at times as one in a crowd of 7 billion, but as you read this today, by faith, know you are not jostling with anybody for His attention. You are His audience of one!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 21st March 2016

We all have a plan over our lives. We were all born with a great purpose. You may not feel like that today, but it is still true.

Circumstances may come against you, but if you are willing and available, nothing will stop God’s plan in your life.

Think about Moses.
Moses had been chosen before the foundation of the Earth for his God-assignment.

Pharaoh decided that when Moses was born, he would kill every baby boy in order to stop God’s plan. It didn’t stop Moses.
God’s hand of protection was on him, from day one.

So when the enemy wants to mess with you, your family or your life, he doesn’t realise that he’s messing with Almighty God IN you.

If King Pharaoh, with all the power and influence, couldn’t stop Moses, then nothing will stop God’s plan for your life.

You could say that Moses had been born at the wrong time, as all the baby boys were being killed. We make all sorts of excuses, like ‘I was born at the wrong time, to the wrong parents.’ You may think you weren’t wanted or were even a mistake.

Not to God. His plan for your life will be fulfilled, as long as you are
WILLING and AVAILABLE.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 19th March 2016

I don’t know whether you’ve ever bought flat-pack furniture before. If so, you’ll know that it’s easy to look at furniture before it’s built and just see a whole lot of hard work in front of you, as opposed to seeing what the finished product could look like.

Not only is this mindset applicable to the way we look at objects, but also to the way we look at people. You see, God has an amazing plan for every person. He designed each individual with a specific purpose. However, we don’t always see people that way. Why? Because they come flat-packed.

When we look at people, we see a whole lot of hard work in front of us, as opposed to seeing the potential locked inside of them. But if we were to just pull out the instructions and take a look at the Maker’s intentions for that person and see all that they had been created to be, we would understand that the process to build them up is worth it.

How do we build people up? By our words.

Proverbs 18:21 (MSG) “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” Your words are water to people’s growth. You can either build them up or tear them down through what comes out of your mouth. It’s your choice today. Choose to look past people’s ‘here & now’ and begin to see God’s plan for their life and understand that your words play a bigger part in them fulfilling that plan than you ever knew.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 18th March 2016

When you were younger, do you remember looking up to someone, and wishing you could be just like them? Imagine if you had carried
that on into adulthood? There’s nothing wrong with admiring someone but always be you. God put you on this earth to do what only you can do.

There may be times in your life, when you’ve said “I want to be like them.” Someone has likely said that about you too.

You’ll influence more people by being your authentic self. It may seem scary at first. ‘What if I’m misunderstood?’ ‘What if people
don’t like the real me?’ The freedom that comes in Christ is that there is a new you
waiting to be discovered. Invite God to reveal it to you today. We have the privilege of relationship with a limitless and amazing God. We can never ask him for too much.

That thing that sets your heart ablaze? It’s likely connected to your purpose. Run with it and see where God takes you. He is waiting.
Our dreams, our gifts and our talents were given to us by Him and He has an awesome purpose for each and every one of them but we’ll never live that out fully, if we’re made up of bits and bobs of other people.

Melissa Reynolds-Lawrence

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 17th March 2016

I would suggest that the word ‘Honour’ is an ‘old-fashioned’ word, perhaps not so common in today’s society. However, it is a powerful word and carries huge implications.

By definition, it means: high respect; great esteem or regard with great respect.
To show honour to others is not really in-keeping with today’s society – which is more than ever all about your own self.

The Bible uses the word honour a number of times and is usually connected to a powerful truth. Just one example is found in
Romans 12:10 – ‘Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.’

Ask yourself what would happen if today all your family, friends and work colleagues, honoured each other – put others before themselves, encouraged each other, preferred each other. What could that look like?
Maybe it would look like, a family re-united, parents back together, siblings living under the same roof once again. Perhaps it would look like your business turning around and being successful, your work place being a place of achievement and team spirit?

The Bible holds a great truth that there is power in honour – honouring each other and especially honouring God.

Why not take time to honour your friends and family today? Why not bring back the word honour and make it the in-thing to do?

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 16th March 2016

The English language states that the word ‘living’ can be used as an adjective or a noun – a describing word or a thing.

Both definitions or uses have different implications and today I want to ask you the question…which life are you living?

By definition, ‘Living’ as a noun means ‘the state of being alive’ where as the definition of the same word as an adjective is, ‘Having life’ or ‘Exhibiting life.’

I believe that we can find ourselves moving between these two definitions, however we should be firmly fixed in one.

What kind of day are you having? How are you feeling? Is it a ‘state of being alive’ kind-of-day? or maybe today you are ‘Exhibiting life’…?

Jesus said ‘I have come to give you life and life to the full.’

If today you are barely ‘living’ and for you, perhaps, being alive is all you can hope for, let me encourage you to find hope and strength in the love and grace that Jesus so willingly gives us.

I pray that you may have life to the full and that you would not just ‘exist’ but begin to exhibit life…show it off…put on a great display and experience life as Jesus intended us to.

Adam Nash

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 15th March 2016

When we become followers of Jesus, one of the greatest discoveries that we can make is that God loves to hear and answer our prayers – if you don’t believe that, then ponder these words during today:

James 4:2 …You do not have because you do not ask God.

However, we all have to admit there are times when we can feel that God is deaf to our prayers.

Maybe we’ve been disappointed in prayer and so we feel that prayer doesn’t work or more importantly God doesn’t work for you.

Today, I want you to see something about prayer that many never do…God always answers prayer, but He may not answer in a way or at a time that you want.

I remember one of the most important prayers that I ever prayed concerning my life, took more than five years to be answered. I could have given up and thought it a waste of time, but I kept going year after year until the answer came.

Don’t think that delay is the same as denial.

Take Daniel in the Bible for instance…

Daniel 9:22-23
‘Daniel…You had no sooner started your prayer when the answer was given. And now I’m here to deliver the answer to you. You are much loved! So listen carefully to the answer, the plain meaning of what is revealed.’

His prayer was heard immediately, but the Bible records that it was not answered for 21 days.

Just because you haven’t received the answer, it doesn’t mean that your prayer hasn’t been heard and the answer is on its way.

The first thing that I do every day is read the Bible and pray. Each day, I’m praying in particular for five young men that I personally know but are far from God, or so it seems.

I’ve been praying for them now for months and even a couple of years with no sign of an answer. Does that mean that God is not listening? Of course not.

As I write today, two of those young men have started to come to church and they don’t even know that I am praying for them!

When it comes to prayer, don’t give up too easily, be prepared to PUSH…

Pray

Until

Something

Happens

Feeling discouraged about seeing God move in your situation? Remember, no sooner had you prayed that He started to answer your prayer – it just may take time for the answer to appear.

Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 14th March 2016

Money is one of the biggest stress points in anyone’s life.

If you are married, then you will particularly know only too well how true that is.

If you have children then you will be feeling the pinch even more.

The truth is, there just doesn’t seem enough to go around. Surprisingly, a pay rise brings short term relief, as you quickly spend that surplus cash and do what everyone else does, and that is, live according to or beyond your means.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your money never ran out?

We have all dreamed of what we could do if money was no object. Unselfishly, we could help so many people and do so many great things, let only buy that one thing that you’ve always wanted.

In reality, most of us may never come into a place of having so much money that we don’t know what to do with it. However, I want to share with you the secret of having a never-ending supply.

Please understand that this is not the same as accumulating wealth or doing the lottery in the hope of becoming an overnight millionaire; what I’m about to share not only applies to all, no matter how rich or poor, but it actually works for all too.

This secret is found in the Bible and comes from the lips of Jesus…

Luke 12:33-34 – ‘Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

How would you like a purse or wallet that never wears out and one that cannot be fully emptied or stolen from? This is a purse of abundant supply.

As you read more of this chapter below, you will see three principles of provision.

1) Don’t worry about your life.

2) Be generous with the money that you do have.

3) Put God first, in everything you do.

As I write, a retired lady that I know told me of how she feared that she would never have enough money to go around ,as she was now just on a pension.

Her story is unique, yet it’s the same story as everyone else’s that makes a choice to apply the above 3 principles. She tells me that on paper she cannot afford to give part of her income to God and that she is supposed to be struggling and worrying about how to make ends meet. Yet, her story is of abundant supply, in that not only does she have enough, she has more than enough, in fact more surplus than she’s ever known before, even when employed.

She knows the secret.

She lives by the secret.

Do you?

Luke 12:22-34 Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? ‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 12th March 2016

This weekend, Champions  Church welcomes Pastor Charles Nieman, senior pastor of the Abundant Living Faith Center in El Paso.

Charles Nieman was born and brought up in El Paso, Texas and while studying at the University of Texas in his early 20’s, he felt called to become a preacher.

Shortly after marrying his first love, Rochelle, they began pastoring in 1977 to a congregation of just 20 people in a small railroad union hall in El Paso. Since then, their church has grown to almost 30,000 members and is listed as one of America’s largest and fasting growing churches.

Charles is a regular speaker at Christian conferences all over the world and has written several books, including ‘Living Smart’ and ‘Becoming a Master Asker.’

Tragically, Pastor Charles lost his wife after a short battle with cancer, just three years ago.

Today, he is rebuilding his life again and is able to help others in tragic circumstances to do the same.

Hear Pastor Charles this weekend at Champions.

Sunday at 9am and 11.30am.

Month of Mondays conference – night 2 – 7.30pm. Full details of the conference can be found here.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 11th March 2016

Luther Vandross sang a song that went like this…’if you’re not with the one you love, love the one you’re with.’

I believe this to be great advice for living a contented life.

It’s not about settling for second best, but thoroughly making the most of your current situation and blessings.

An example would go like this: I am not a tall man, so I could spend my life dreaming and thinking how great it would be if I was tall. This advice from Mr Vandross says ‘if you’re not the height you want, want the height you are!’

The truth is, at the end of the day, I will not grow so much as a millimetre by wanting to, so if I can’t beat them join them, so I make a decision to love the height I am.

I’m less likely to get back problems, I get extra leg room on planes and I rarely bang my head on low doorways!

It may sound a silly example, but I hope you get the idea; apply it to all areas of life and you will start celebrating with gratitude what you do have, instead of living with the frustration of feeling hard done by.

God has made us all different and unique and you could waste so much emotion on looking and comparing yourself with others, but stop it and celebrate exactly the unique characters and qualities God put into you!

You are the best you!

There is nothing so precious as people and if you’re reading this then you are one and priceless to God!

Luke Cartwright

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 10th March 2016

What is your dream and what is your passion?

Maybe it’s to be a very successful businessman or woman. Find someone who is more successful than you and get alongside them. Listen to them, learn from them, ask questions and you’ll get inspired.

When you’re a musician and you have the privilege of playing with more gifted ones than yourself, you’ll get inspired and you’ll want to get better.

I love flowers, I love to arrange flowers for gifts. When I see great flower arrangements and displays, I get ideas and I get inspired. I notice flowers wherever I go and the good ones inspire me.

As a pastor and a leader, I love to be with people who inspire me. Those who have been there and done that and have done it or are doing it well.
Time invested with such people is invaluable time spent.

Too often we like our own company, or we spend too much time with people who aren’t going to inspire us to be better.

Today, make a decision to learn something new, get with someone who is further down the road than you and get inspired.
Whatever your dream or passion today, ask God to give you opportunities to grow in that area.

I love the story of the table tennis player who only ever played people who were far better than himself. When asked how we felt about getting beaten every game, he gave this great answer “I may be getting beaten, but I’m getting better.”

Who/what is making you better today?

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 9th March 2016

If I asked you to name the shortest verse in the Bible, I wonder if you’d know what it was?

The answer is found right here in John 11:35…

‘Jesus wept.’

It’s one of those incredible moments where Jesus shows his humanity and His deep empathy for the family of His close friend Lazarus, who had just died.

As Jesus stood at the burial tomb, He was overcome with emotion and simply wept.

After three days had passed, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  Amazing though that is, I want to draw your attention to something just as powerful in this account…

John 11:38-44 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ he said.‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth round his face.Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’

It’s those last 9 words that I want to grab your attention today.

Lazarus had miraculously been given his life back but there was still yet something that needed to happen – he needed to be set free from those old stinking cloths that bound him so tightly.

It is possible and certainly probable that many reading this today could be facing the very same problem that Lazarus faced …a new life, but still bound.

Jesus says to you today…take off the very things that still bind you right now, and be set free.

A new life can never be walked out if you still have past hurts, bondages, failures, sins that keep holding you back. Give them all to Jesus today and let Him set you free.

Whenever we continue to hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness towards someone, then we have to realise that’s it not hurting them half as much as it’s hurting us.

A canary may sing all day, but it’s still in a cage.

Maybe something was said to you in the formative years of your life and you are still carrying it around with you, just as if it was spoken yesterday?

Jesus not only wants to give you the free gift of a brand new life, but He also wants to unravel you and free you from your past.

Take off your grave clothes that belong only to your past and be set free to walk into your future.

John 8:36…So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 8th March 2016

We have a box full of light bulbs. What can I say about them?  They are all different shapes and sizes. They take up a lot of room.
They are fragile, easily broken and you have to handle them correctly.
We have a box full of batteries. They are not pretty or exciting and they look quite boring.

Both the light bulb and the battery are useless, unless they are connected to something. And when they are, they make that thing come alive. And we can’t do without them.

Each one of us is born with a plan and a purpose. We may not feel very pretty or exciting and you may have to be handled with care at times, but when you are connected to the right thing. You will come alive.

You are a ‘powerful invention’ – there is no one else like you.
You are unique and powerful and when connected to the right source, you will make that thing come alive too.

The right people, the right church, the right vision…
Whatever it is, get connected…you have a great part to play.
Get connected. You’re no use in a box.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

 

Fresh Hope – 7th March 2016

I’d love to be free from pain…

I’m not physically ill.

I don’t have a broken bone or have arthritis.

I’m not taking medication for anything.

The pain I feel is therefore nothing to do with my physical body, but is something that is part and parcel of living a life for God.

The pain I’m describing is not exclusively mine, as it belongs to us all.

None of us ever sign up to follow Jesus because we are attracted to pain, but often because we want to live a life free from pain. However, the pain I speak of is the unavoidable and inevitable pain of the daily trials that we all face.

I came to the conclusion many years ago that ‘there will always be a problem’.

It’s not a faithless statement, but it is a realistic statement that helps us gain a proper perspective on what it’s like to live a daily life for God.

1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful and fiery trial that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in as much as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

How many of us are so surprised when we find a painful trial sprung upon us?

Yet the Bible is advising us that we shouldn’t be – in fact, it’s actually teaching us that trials are our friends and not our enemies.

By virtue of the fact that this verse says that we shouldn’t think that ‘something strange is happening to us’ when we go through trials, indicates that we should embrace difficulties as character makers, rather than character breakers.

My friends today, if you are in the middle of pain because of a trial that you are facing, then don’t dismay, but understand that every Christian is in just the same boat.

Our trials will be different and will come at different times and seasons in our lives, but be assured of this: they are not a sign that God has left you, but is right there holding your hand to bring you out the other side, a better and stronger person for it.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Don’t miss night one of  Month of Mondays, at 7.30 tonight.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 5th March 2016

Champions Church welcomes pastor Tommy Barnett.

This weekend we welcome much-loved leader, Pastor, author and friend, Tommy Barnett to Champions Church.

Tommy Barnett has been the senior pastor of Dream City Church in Phoenix for almost 40 years, before recently handing over its leadership to his oldest son Luke.

Tommy Barnett began his ministry at age 16 and as a young man he was called to lead Westside Church in Iowa. In just a few years, the church grew from 76 people to more than 4,000 members.

In 1979, he moved to become the pastor in Phoenix where the church has seen phenomenal growth under his leadership over the past three decades.

As of 2011, Dream City Church was named as one the largest churches in America with an average Sunday attendance of 10,000.

Tommy Barnett, alongside his son Matthew, also co-pastor the Dream Center in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

His annual conference has gathered more than 200,000 leaders over 30 years to train and equip the next generation of pastors and leaders.

His life has influenced many leaders, including high-profile and world renowned speakers such as Joyce Meyer, T. D. Jakes and Charles Nieman.

He has authored several books, including Multiplication, Hidden Power, Enlarge Your Circle of Love, Reaching Your Dreams, and Your Great Adventure.
Pastor Tommy is now aged 78, is married to his first love Marja and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He has three children: Matthew, Luke, and Kristie, all of whom have also taken prominent leadership roles in the Church.

Don’t miss Pastor Tommy speaking this weekend at Champions Church.

Sunday – Mother’s Day services at 9am and 11.30am.

Month of Mondays conference – night 1 at 7.30pm. Full details of the conference can be found here.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 4th March 2016

No matter how good we are, no matter how hard we try and now matter how right we do things, be sure of this one thing, you will get offended.

It’s never a case of if, but when.

Before long, if it’s not already happened, you will get offended and not only that, you will also unintentionally cause an offence.

I can’t think of one time in my life when I have woken up one morning and thought, ‘today is the day when I’m going to offend someone.’

I’ve never gone out of my way to offend, but I do know that I have offended quite a lot of people along the way.

How do you offend people when you don’t set out to do so, is a really good question. My answer is this…you can’t be alive and not offend anyone. It’s inevitable. It happens as part of life.

If you’ve been offended recently then take courage from the Bible…

Luke 17:1 ‘Jesus said to his disciples: it is impossible that things that cause people to be offended won’t come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.’

Now that we know that we can’t protect ourselves from being offended, we have to prepare ourselves for when we are offended.

Here are my thoughts…

Choose not to carry the offence.

Let go of the offence by quickly forgiving.

Don’t go around telling other people that you are offended, otherwise they will become part of the offence too.

The golden rule is this: always be big enough to overlook an offence, but if you can’t deal with it successfully internally, then deal with it externally by addressing the offence with the person directly in a gracious and loving manner in order to resolve it.

Most of the time offences come through simple misunderstandings, or by being misquoted or intentions being misconstrued.

Non of these things are intentional, just inevitable. However, take special note of anyone that sets out to intentionally cause offence, be sure to stay well away from such a person.

Don’t be an offence maker – just improve yourself in being an offence taker.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 3rd March 2016

I want you to consider for a moment the potential influence that you can have on people today.

Whether it be in your home, or at work, or in your school, we each have a sphere of influence, no matter how big or small.

Whether you realised it or not, your life is influential. Therefore, we must now ask the question: what kind of influence am I having?

You see, the only time that you lose influence is when you don’t realise that you have influence… And so the influence that you have on the people around you could be unintentional, because you failed to recognise that everything about you says something about you.

In order to be a positive influence, you must be what you want to see. If you want your home to be filled with generosity, you must first be generous yourself. If you want your offices to be a place where kind words are spoken, you should ensure that everything you say is kind…

Today, I want to encourage you to see the influence that you have and to use that influence wisely to make a positive impact in your world. And know that people are more interested in the life that you live as opposed to the words that you speak. A demonstration is far better than a description. Choose today to make a difference, not just in your speech, but in your actions too.

Caleb Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 2nd March 2016

The Bible is there to help us and to encourage us. God will always speak to us through His word, we just need to read it.

In Hebrews  12 verse one onwards it says this “therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and run the race marked out for us.”
Whatever you are going through today, someone has already experienced that.
Whatever upward hill you may face, someone has already climbed it. Whatever seems impossible to you, be encouraged: someone else has been there and done that.

You see, God not only places people in our lives to spur us on but we can also read and be encouraged by people in the Bible who had amazing stories to tell.

This is what the writer of Hebrews meant, when he said “since you are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.”
It’s there as an encouragement to us, for the days when we think it’s only me that’s gone through this.

When you know that someone else has done what you are facing, it encourages you.

This verse also tells us to get rid of everything that hinders us, because stuff does and it won’t help you. It’s stopping your progress .

I’m always encouraged by other people who are further down the road than me.
If you’re keeping fit, it’s better when you do it together.
If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s great if someone is there to encourage you.
If you want to start a business, talk to someone who’s already successfully done that.

There is power in numbers. Get along side like-minded people, they will encourage you to run the race that God has mapped out for you and remember someone else has been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

Pastor Gillian

A daily devotion for a better way of living.

Fresh Hope – 1st March 2016

There is power in giving.

There is also unquestionable blessing, when giving to the house of God for a special project or building.

Over the last few years, I’ve been privileged to know a wonderful man and his family, who works as the contracts manager for one of the largest building contractors in South Africa.

The company is widely recognised as one of the best in the nation and is therefore blessed with some of the biggest and best contracts to date.

All the board of directors are either non-Christians or just nominal church goers.

The company has done very well, but just like every other contractor, it has seen a massive down turn during the recession.

My friend, the contracts manager, is a fine Christian leader in his local church and from time to time has been able to assist the church in some of their building projects during the quieter times that the company has recently faced.

Such is his positive influence within the company, that they have even given interest free loans to the church to help them to build and do some renovations.

During this process, the directors have all noticed something quite amazing happening that can’t be explained away…

Every time that the work load gets slack, they offer to do work for the church just to keep their men employed and occupied for a few days;  incredibly as they do so, they notice that orders just flood in again. It happens every time to such a degree that the board of directors say to the contracts manager, ‘can you get us some work to do down at the church, because every time we send our workers there, we suddenly get flooded with orders.’

Admittedly this is quite amazing, but is actually not that surprising.

God has already set out a very specific promise in the Bible for everyone of us to take a hold of in Matthew 6:31-34 ‘…So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

Whenever you put God first and look after His interests, He adds and then multiplies everything to you as well.

As Gillian and myself were just starting out as the young Pastors of our church, God gave us a specific promise, bearing in mind that I had just given up my salary, career, pension and prospects, in order to lead the church.

His promise was this: if you will build my house, I will build yours.

As the years have unfolded, His promise has come true. We have totally focused our lives on building God’s house, both spiritually with people, and physically with buildings, and into the bargain God has blessed us back over and over again.

Putting God first works.

Giving to God and His house works.

Living for God works.

Right now, we are asking the people of our church once again to dig deep in order to give to our new building project. I never feel bad about asking, for one reason alone…I know that God will bless everyone that gives many times over. No one loses out because they give to God’s work – instead, they come into supernatural blessing for doing so.

Luke 6:38 ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’

You can now view the ‘walk through’ video of the new church building, by going to our website.

Click here and scroll down, to watch the video.

Pastor Mark

A daily devotion for a better way of living.